Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA) is announcing the further postponement of the National Service of Remembrance, originally planned for March 28, 2020 in Dundas Town, Abaco.
The Ministry of Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction; the Bahamas Christian Council; and the Abaco Christian Council agreed on the postponement of the service and burial of Hurricane Dorian victims.
“We spoke with the president of the Abaco Christian Council, Pastor Edgburt Tinker and Pastor Mario Moxey, vice-president of the Bahamas Christian Council,” said Katherine Forbes-Smith, managing director of the DRA.
“Pastor Tinker connected with all of the local pastors in Abaco and the consensus is to postpone out of respect for family members, as they feel the object of this remembrance service is to have a ceremonial, proper Christian burial that all loved ones can attend.”
Current COVID-19 emergency order restrictions on movement, mass assembly and the emphasis on physical distancing make holding ceremonies difficult.
“It is very important for us with the COVID-19 pandemic, to consider the safety issues involved with having a public event,” said Iram Lewis, minister of state for disaster preparedness, management and reconstruction.
“We must also remember the purpose of the national remembrance service while taking into consideration the desires of the community, particularly the families of the deceased.”
Bishop Delton Fernander, president of the Bahamas Christian Council, said it is important to have a proper service for the victims.
“Under the COVID-19 emergency order, no more than 10 persons are permitted to attend the funeral service of a loved one, hence it is not practical to proceed seeing that our desire is to be inclusive of everyone,” he said.
“We have waited for this moment and have prepared the burial site to truly honor the lives of our loved ones, however, they deserve our patience and their families are entitled to share in a National Service of Remembrance, which speaks to how we as a people demonstrate dignity and respect for those who have lived among us and have played a role in the development of our society.
“We are mindful of the appeal of some to proceed amidst this global pandemic, but the government of The Bahamas truly feels as though the Abaco community must be involved in this national act of homage and we endorse and fully support that sentiment.”
Honoring those who lost their lives during Hurricane Dorian is a priority for all concerned. A new date will be announced for the service when conditions allow for the event to take place in a manner fitting of the memory of those who lost their lives due to Hurricane Dorian.
DRA is responsible for the management of reconstruction and restoration in areas designated as disaster zones. The DRA Act was enacted by the Parliament of The Bahamas in 2019 in response to the widespread devastation of Hurricane Dorian on the northern Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian was a Category 5 hurricane and the strongest cyclone to hit The Bahamas. DRA is a corporate body that works collaboratively with national and international agencies in support of disaster recovery. It is committed to maximizing recovery, reconstruction and resilience outcomes with a mission of building a more resilient Bahamas.